Health

Meditation doesn't have to be weird, I promise

Finding time for some kind of meditative practice can lower stress and boost happiness.

A recent story in the Daily Mail – How to meditate by Mark Vernon – caught my eye. It serves as an introduction to meditation – both how to do it and why you should. There are many different ways to meditate (including focusing on breath or the soles of your feet while walking) and the benefits are myriad: mostly, it can alleviate stress and depression, which are linked to all kinds of health problems.

Meditation has a bit of a weird reputation, I know. I used to think it necessarily involved flowing robes and sitting under a Banyan tree with your eyes closed and fingers pressed together while the wind delicately blew chimes in the background. Who has the time for that? I was first introduced to the idea of real meditation through my occasional yoga practice – which mostly involves breathing, calm and stillness (flowing robes optional) – and I’ve since expanded my idea of meditative practices even further.

I’m the kind of person whose mind easily spins out of control. If I get even slightly overwhelmed by life – tight deadlines, too many social obligations, boy-related crazies – I will reliably wake up in the middle of the night with my heart pounding and a jumble of thoughts racing. I’ve realized that three things help me to combat this:

1. Not taking on too much and avoiding dating crazy dudes (which is easier said than done).
2. Vigorous exercise several times a week (usually in the form of swimming, which successfully exhausts me).
3. Long walks and reading good books, both of which calm me down and serve a meditative function.

With both reading and walking, everything slows down for me and I’m actually able to focus on what I’m doing instead of agonizing over what I have to do after. Whenever I’m stuck on a story that just isn’t working, I go for a long walk and it has the effect on my mind of an etch-a-sketch that’s been freshly shaken. I come back home to my work fresh, calmer, happier and ready to take anything on.